Assessment is a powerful tool used to measure and understand how much of the learning objectives were achieved by the students. It is like a “crystal ball” that will show whether the students are grasping the concepts or not. If not, necessary adjustments or changes can be instituted immediately to address any learning problems from arising. Assessment is not just for the students. The feedback generated is also very useful to improve teaching methods. Teachers can refine and tailor teaching methods or strategies to suit the needs of the class.
To create a successful learning outcome, teachers must ensure that assessments are aligned to learning objectives and instructional strategies. Alignment ensures desirable learning outcomes, however misalignment can “undermine both students’ motivation and learning.”1
Phenomenographic researchers, such as Marton and Säljö, (1984) and Ramsden (1992), argue that students approach a learning task with a surface orientation or a deep orientation according to how they perceive the learning task. As I understand it, as teachers we should steer students to approach learning tasks with deep orientation by providing them with appropriate, effective, and valid assessment tasks. “The power of assessment to influence the approach adopted towards a learning task is very considerable.”2
With regard to current practices, there seems to be a big gap between public and private schools when it comes to learning and performance. As I see it, private schools gravitate more on assessment tasks that put more emphasis on stimulating students’ high level cognition rather than merely testing recall of knowledge. Many public schools still dwell on the traditional rote learning, which engages students in low level form of learning.
In conclusion, I could say that appropriate, effective, and valid assessments aligned to learning objectives and instructional strategies play a pivotal role in achieving a desirable and successful learning outcome. Educators should keep in mind that they don’t create learning for students, students create their own. In the words of Shuell (1986), “it is not so much what the teacher does that influences learning outcomes but, rather, what the student does.”
1 Whys and Hows of Assessment. Retrieved from http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/assessment/basics/alignment.html.
2 Chris Morgan, Lee Dunn, Sharon Parry and Meg O’Reilly, The Student Assessment Handbook (London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2004), p. 10.